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US’ Legion of Merit Award to PM Modi- What This Recognition Rooted in Military Tradition Signifies

The United States of America has awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the ‘Legion of Merit’ award. Any recognition from abroad is a proud moment for the country as a whole, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a long list of awards from various nations.

The present award that the US accorded to Prime Minister Modi has significance irrespective of the fact that the outgoing Trump administration is awarding it. Whatever may be the internal politics between Republicans and the Democrats, there is little scope to completely reverse the foreign policy direction that the Trump administration took with regard to India as we explored in our earlier article Facts for Those Arguing That Biden Administration May Not Be Good for the Modi Government.

About the Award

The Legion of Merit is given for exceptionally-meritorious conduct in the performance of incredible services and achievements and it is a military award of the United States Armed Forces. United States’ eight uniformed services members are being issued the decoration and it is also issued to military and political figures of foreign governments.

The Signal from Legion of Merit Award

Along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are also accorded with the prestigious Legion of Merit Award. In a way, this recognises the forces that are at the forefront in the Indo-Pacific region.

The threat to these forces at present is also not a secret. While India is repulsing China’s aggression in the Himalayas, Japan is facing the Chinese threat over Senkaku Islands and Australia has suffered from Chinese sanctions.

So, the experts see this as a strong recognition of ‘QUAD’ from the Trump administration.

Much Before Trump, Modi-Obama Came Together

When did India join hands with America in voicing concerns about South China Sea, thereby putting up a narrative to challenge China’s unchecked dominance? It was back in October 2014 after the Modi-Obama meet. India under the Modi administration has been consistent and vocal on this strategic issue, irrespective of who is leading the US.

Some of the interviews of Biden suggest that he will not reverse America’s assertiveness in dealing with China. As this article in the Hindustan Times noted, Biden said that “It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies.”

It is also noted that, Biden will seek to shift the focus of trade policy from Trump’s deficit reduction to “actually produce progress on China’s abusive practices” of forced transfer of technology, theft of intellectual property, and bolstering Chinese corporations with subsidies.

In this context, the grouping of QUAD, whether it is formal or informal, will continue to shape Indo-Pacific geopolitics and the Legion of Merit seems to be an important milestone in this scheme of things.

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